How to Cure Labyrinthitis
Labyrinthitis (vestibular neuritis) is swelling and inflammation of the inner ear, which is usually caused by a virus or (less often) by bacteria.The most common symptoms of labyrinthitis include hearing loss, vertigo (the sensation that the wold is spinning around you), dizziness, loss of balance, and nausea.The most severe symptoms of the condition typically subside within a week, but you can take additional steps to help alleviate symptoms and complications in the meantime.
Alleviating Symptoms of Labyrinthitis at Home
Recognize symptoms of labyrinthitis.The inner parts of your ear are crucial for both your sense of hearing and balance. Swelling due to the condition can lead to an impairment of both, which then has other cascading effects. The most common effect by which to recognize labyrinthitis include:
- Vertigo (a spinning feeling when standing still)
- Difficulty focusing due to your eyes moving on their own
- Hearing loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tinnitus (ringing or other noises in your ears)
Avoid activity that can complicate or worsen the condition.Recent viral illnesses (colds and flus), as well as respiratory and ear infections, significantly increase your risk for labyrinthitis.However, a number of more controllable activities can raise your risk for the condition or worsen the condition once you have it. These activities include:
- Overconsumption of alcohol
- Severe allergies
- Certain medications (such as aspirin)
Take an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine.OTC antihistamines are used to treat allergies, and they can help reduce the congestion from a recent infection, which may be what’s causing the swelling leading to the labyrinthitis.Common antihistamines include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), desloratadine (Clarinex), and fexofenadine (Allegra).
- Many antihistamines can cause drowsiness, so read the effects on the packaging closely, and always stay within the recommended dosages.
Take an OTC medication to treat dizziness.Since labyrinthitis is most often caused by a viral infection, you must often wait for your immune system to do its job and beat the virus. During this time you can help reduce any associated dizziness with an OTC medication.The most common OTC medicine for dizziness is meclizine (Bonine, Dramamine, or Antivert).
Manage vertigo.The effects of labyrinthitis usually come as attacks rather than a continuous set of symptoms. When you have an attack of vertigo due to the condition, you can take several steps to help reduce the effects. You should:
- Rest as best as you can and try to stay still without moving your head
- Avoid changing positions or making sudden movements
- Resume activities slowly
- Get help walking so you don’t injure yourself in a fall
- Avoid bright lights, television (and other electronic screens), and reading during attacks
Do exercises to reduce vertigo.There are some exercises that can help you to reduce the feeling of vertigo. The most effective exercise is called the Epley maneuver.This maneuver can help to reposition the small particles in the canals of your inner ear called otoliths. These particles, when knocked out of place, can induce vertigo. To perform the maneuver:
- Sit in the middle of your bed at the edge with your head turned 45° toward the direction that induces the vertigo.
- Quickly lay down backward with your head still toward the direction that produces the vertigo. This will likely lead to a strong vertiginous response. Stay in this position for thirty seconds.
- Turn your head 90° to the opposite direction and hold for another thirty seconds.
- Rotate both your head and your body in the same direction (you will now be on your side with your head over the edge of the bed pointed 45° toward the ground). Hold for another thirty seconds before sitting back up.
- Repeat this five or six times until you no longer experience a response of vertigo to the maneuver.
Take necessary precautions as you get better.While the most severe symptoms of labyrinthitis usually last about a week, you can still have milder symptoms for three weeks (on average).Sudden dizzy spells while driving, climbing, or operating heavy machinery can all prove dangerous as you recover.Take the necessary precautions and consider consulting a physician regarding when it is safe for you to resume these activities.
Seeing Your Physician
Learn when to seek immediate medical attention.In most cases of viral labyrinthitis, your immune system will clear the infection on its own. However, less frequent instances of bacterial labyrinthitis can lead to much more serious (and potentially life-threatening) conditions such as meningitis.You should seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms also include:
- Double vision
- Severe vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Vertigo with a fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher
- Weakness or paralysis
Make an appointment with your doctor.Even without emergency-related symptoms, you should still see your doctor if you’re suffering from labyrinthitis.Your doctor will help diagnose whether the etiology (cause) of the condition is viral or bacterial.Your doctor can then take the proper steps to possibly shorten the duration of the condition, alleviate symptoms, and reduce the risk of any permanent hearing loss.
- There are other causes of vertigo that are not from labyrinthitis, so its important for a doctor to evaluate
Submit to any tests your doctor wants to order.If the presentation of your case makes your doctor suspect something other than labyrinthitis, he or she may order tests to rule out other conditions. Your doctor may ask you to submit to:
- An electroencephalogram (EEG)
- An electronystagmography, which tests eye reflexes by warming and cooling your inner ear
- A computed tomography (CT) scan, which creates a three-dimensional x-ray of your head
- An MRI
- Hearing tests
Take any medications prescribed to treat the labyrinthitis.Your physician may prescribe antiviral agents for severe forms of viral labyrinthitis or antibiotics if the underlying cause is a bacterial infection.Regardless of the type of prescription, take exactly as directed for the full course of the medication.
Ask about medications to help alleviate symptoms.In addition to any medications your doctor might prescribe to treat the cause of the labyrinthitis, he or she may also recommend prescription-strength medications to help you deal with the vertigo, dizziness, and other symptoms while you recover. Tell your doctor about any antihistamines, Dramamine, or any other OTC medicines you were taking before your consultation, and only follow the exact medication regimen that your doctor prescribes. Some common drugs prescribed for this purpose include:
- Prochlorperazine (Compazine) to control nausea and vomiting
- Scopolamine (Transderm-Scop) to help with dizziness
- Sedatives such as diazepam (Valium)
- Steroids (prednisone, methylprednisolone, or decadron)
Ask your doctor about vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) for chronic conditions.If your symptoms do not subside with the use of medication and become chronic, then you should ask your doctor about VRT. VRT is a physical therapy that can help you adapt to and correct for the symptoms of labyrinthitis. Some of the strategies most commonly used in this therapy include:
- Gaze-stabilization exercises: These exercises help your brain adapt to the new signaling from your affected vestibular system (the system that helps you with orientation). A common exercise includes fixing your gaze on a specific target while moving your head.
- Canal-retraining exercises: Chronic symptoms of labyrinthitis can lead to changes related to nerve signaling for balance and walking. These exercises improve coordination by helping you adapt to the affected sensory information you receive from your eyes and vestibular system.
- Expect to see a physical therapist once or twice a week for four to six weeks for your VRT sessions.
Undergo surgery as a last resort.In very rare cases, your doctor may determine that an aggressive surgical option is necessary to stop advanced labyrinthitis complications from turning into potentially fatal meningitis or encephalitis. This may include a labyrinthectomy (removal of the infected portion of the inner ear) to help stop the spread of the infection.
QuestionI have had labrynthitis for years, and am told that I have a 28 percent lack of balance in my left ear. Are there any medications that I can take?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI find that this comes on very suddenly, maybe only once a year. I keep a couple of Stugeron 15 pills in my wallet just in case. These are the same as sea sickness tablets, and once taken, the worst of the sickness feeling will subside in two hours.Thanks!
QuestionWhat shouldn't I drink?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAvoid alcohol. Other than that, you can drink anything you normally would.Thanks!
QuestionIs BPPV completely different from Labyrinthitis?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. BPPV is when "stones" break off in the inner ear and cause vertigo. Labyrinthitis is caused by a nerve and/or the inner ear becoming inflamed and causing damage. BPPV can generally be managed with physical therapy to adjust the "stones." Labyrinthitis only improves if your brain can compensate for the damage.Thanks!
Was given a leaflet vestibular rehabilitation exerciise from doctor but was not told which ones to do so am just doing them all is this correct?
How do I know if I have labyrinthitis?
I have dystonia ST and now developed labyrinthitis. It is impossible to keep my head still. Is there a link between the two?
After informing DVLA of Labyrinthitis does that mean I can't drive anymore?
Is it ok to fly with vertigo?
- While this article provides information related to labyrinthitis, you should not consider it medical advice. Always consult your physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if you believe you have labyrinthitis.
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